I returned on July 31 from my twelfth trip to Mongolia since 2005. I traveled to a number of places, starting with Arburd Sands ger camp in Bayan-Onjuul Soum, Tov Aimag, about two hours south-west of Ulaanbaatar. The area features a 20km stretch of dunes running east-west, the northernmost extent of the Gobi. I enjoyed capturing the clouds as they drifted by.
A group of camels was nice enough to move through the scene.
This was actually the first one I did as a warm-up. A relatively overcast day in a country that gets 250 days of sunshine a year.
I’ve seen these camels a number of times now at a ger camp that I stay at, Arburd Sands. Nowhere else in my travels in Mongolia since 2005 have I ever seen one with a white face like this. He’s big, too. His legs have the same kind of spotted markings. These two were part of a large group belonging to a local herder. They were grazing and hanging around quite near to the camp. I sat and sketched them one morning along with taking a lot of photos.
Here’s one of the pages of sketches I did in 2012 which includes the white-faced camel in the upper right.
You can read Part 1 here. The Expedition schedule was planned to coincide with the naadam (festival) that is held at Arburd Sands ger camp every year to celebrate the camp’s anniversary. Since we were going out to a part of Mongolia, the far western Gobi, where there were very few herders I knew this was the perfect opportunity for the participants to get a taste of Mongol culture and just have a fun time, which we certainly did!
We set up camp the afternoon before, having driven about five hours from Ulaanbaatar.
We had time the next morning to get in some painting and sketching…
I spent most of a morning this past August sketching and photographing a herd of domestic bactrian camels who had wandered near the Arburd Sands ger camp where I was staying. I remembered this white female because she was the subject of one of my first camel paintings “Done for the Day”, which was the first painting I’d ever had accepted into the Society of Animal Artists’ juried exhibition “Art and the Animal”. And there she was again, looking as beautiful as ever in the morning light.
And here she was in 2008 in great late afternoon light. She has a calf this year, too. And I plan to do a painting of the two of them at some point.
It’s pretty amazing to be able to go back to a place and recognize individuals that one has seen before. But she has a way about her and was leading the rest of the camels as they came towards me. Her white coloring also stands out.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to be publicizing the WildArt Mongolia Expedition while I’m here. On September 22, I will be at ArtiCour Gallery, just off Sukhbaatar Square, from 11am to 7pm, meeting Mongolian artists and friends, talking about the Expedition, sharing images of my work and doing demonstrations of sketching, watercolor and iPad drawing. I’ve created a Facebook Event here.
I’ve been able to get in some good field sketching time this trip and thought I’d share a selection of what I’ve done so far. In August I went to Ikh Nartiin Chuluu and Arburd Sands. Once the Expedition in September was postponed, I needed to make other plans. I’ve spent six days at Jalman Meadows ger camp in the Khan Khentii Mountains and got back yesterday from four days back at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, this time staying at Nomadic Journeys’ Red Rock ger camp. Tomorrow morning I go to Hustai National Park for four days to observe, photograph and, with luck, sketch takhi.
I’m using a Moleskin Sketch journal with Sakura Micron .01 and .02 pens and water- soluble colored pencils.
As I noted in my previous post, in Mongolia flexibility is important. So when I got back from my weekend at Arburd Sands ger camp and found that the other artist had cancelled due to a family emergency, I had to get flexible and fast.
The WildArt Mongolia Expedition is now postponed until September of 2013. I will be traveling in the countryside to other locations between now and when I head for home. I’ll post about them when I can.
The great news is that I am working with a young Mongolian man, Byambakhuu Darinchuluun, who lives in New York and who has contacts all over the United States with the various Mongol-American communities and also here in Mongolia. We will be publicizing the Expedition while I’m here in the country, explaining this special, first-time collaboration between Mongol and American artists I’ve planned that will also support conservation. And we’ll have time to extend and refine this important initiative.
To that end I will be the focus of a special event, “American Artist Susan Fox- the WildArt Mongolia Expedition”, on September 22 at ArtiCore Gallery Company, which is right in the middle of Ulaanbaatar, across from Sukhbaatar Square. I’ll be meeting local Mongol artists, talking about the Expedition, giving a presentation on my work and demonstrating my fast sketching technique.
I had a wonderful time at Arburd Sands ger camp last weekend, which was hosting their first naadam for visitors. I got to see the horse race from the beginning through the middle and end and took around 700 photos plus video. There will be more on that later, but here’s a few photos that I particularly liked, including a couple of Mongol bokh, or wrestling.
“Mongol Horse, Arburd Sands” is a study of a horse I saw one morning near the Arburd Sands Ger Camp in Mongolia. He and the rest of the herd were all grazing together in great morning light. Click to bid here
I’m in the middle of a rather large painting (no, not the argali one; a subject for another post; short, short version: got stuck, needed to let it sit for awhile), so I thought I would post a few drawings that I’ve done recently and then get back to the easel. It’s juried show painting season, so I’m trying out different reference images to see if I think they’ll make a painting. These were all done with Wolff’s carbon pencils on Canson Universal Recycled Sketch paper, which turns out to be quite a nice combination.